Bhubaneswar, Dec. 9: Race for the post of vice-chancellor at the state-run Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) has begun. The present incumbent, D.P. Ray, will retire on December 17.
A move has also been initiated to appoint retired IAS officer Rabi Narayan Senapati for the post, sources said.
Governor M.C. Bhandare, who is the chancellor of OUAT, has called five candidates short-listed by the state government and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for an interaction on December 21.
While three of these candidates have been chosen by the state government from the list sent by the chancellor’s office, names of the two others have been chosen by the ICAR.
The state’s former development commissioner, Rabi Narayan Senapati, who retired last month, has emerged as the front runner for the post. Two IAS officers — R.K. Bhujabal and Sahadev Sahu — have been former OUAT vice-chancellors.
Among those who have been called for the interview are Sankarsan Nanda (OUAT’s dean, extension education), S.N. Panda, (IIT, Kharagpur’s professor of agriculture and food engineering and head of school of water resources) and Dibakar Nayak (OUAT’s dean of post-graduate studies and director of residential instruction).
Sources said another dark horse, short-listed by the ICAR, in the race. This person currently works as a professor in a central government institute in Lucknow.
“It entirely depends on the chancellor who he will pick. During the interaction, the governor will certainly want to know their plans for OUAT,” a source said.
All eyes are now on Senapati, who got into the list reportedly at the intervention of the chief minister’s office. Senapati enjoys an excellent rapport with the government.
Most of the IAS and IPS officers, considered close to the establishment, have been rehabilitated at the Odisha Public Service commission, Odisha Staff Selection Commission, Odisha Regulatory Commission and other key posts after retirement.
To clear the hurdles for Senapati, the state government has not adopted a rule recommended by the ICAR that say the state has to constitute a search committee for short-listing names sent by the government and the ICAR for the vice-chancellor’s post. But the government has never done this in the past as such a recommendation was not mandatory earlier.
Sources said the use of such tactics was not unusual for governments when they decide to push a particular case. In this case, it seems to have set its heart on Senapati.